Esophageal cancer occurs when cancer cells develop in the esophagus, a
tube-like structure that runs from the throat down to the stomach. There
are two main types of esophageal cancer – squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a condition in which abnormal squamous cells (the cells that make up
part of the mucous membrane that lines the esophagus) divide and spread
uncontrollably. In the past, squamous cell carcinomas were responsible
for nearly 90% of all esophageal cancers. However, they now make up less
than 50% of esophageal cancers.
Adenocarcinomas occur in glandular tissue and not in squamous tissue. Before an adenocarcinoma
can develop, glandular cells must replace an area of squamous cells, as
in the case of Barrett’s esophagus. This transformation is most
common in the lower esophagus, which is the site of most adenocarcinomas.
Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer
The following are the most common risk factors for esophageal cancer:
- Smoking or other use of tobacco
- Heavy alcohol use
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) increases the risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. In fact, the majority
of Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus are related to GERD.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition that affects the lower part of the esophagus and is caused
by GERD. Over time, it can cause changes in the cells of the esophagus
that increase the risk for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
- In addition, men, the elderly, and African-Americans are at greater risk
for developing esophageal cancer.
Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer
The most common symptom of esophageal cancer is a difficulty swallowing
(known as dysphagia). This is often accompanied by a sensation of food
being stuck in the throat or chest. Approximately half of all esophageal
cancer patients also experience weight loss due to the inability to swallow
properly. Other less common symptoms include: Hoarseness, hiccups and
bloody stools, which may indicate non-cancerous conditions as well.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important
to seek proper evaluation and treatment from a healthcare expert experienced in the
treatment of esophageal cancer and other gastroesophageal conditions.
Expert Care You Can Trust!
The Hoag Digestive Disease Center, in alliance with USC Norris Comprehensive
Cancer Center, continues to lead the way in complex gastroesophageal care, providing access
to a highly specialized surgical team that works collaboratively with
Hoag-affiliated thoracic surgeons, gastroenterologists and medical oncology
specialists to provide academic-level care. Hoag’s committed to
accurate diagnosis, combined with
progressive therapeutic options enables Hoag patients to achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes
in the nation.
To schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, or a second-opinion
consultation with a Hoag gastroesophageal expert, visit
Meet the Team, or call us at: 888-566-9712.